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COVID-19 Updates from
Holyoke Gas and Electric
Local Updates from City Hall
Information on the Outbreak of COVID-19
For the latest on case counts in the United States, visit the CDC website.
COVID-19 State of Emergency updates, emergency orders, and guidance
Sign up for Massachusetts COVID-19 text alerts
To get up-to-date alerts sent directly to your phone, text COVIDMA to 888-777.
You can also call the informational and referral hotline, 211.
Other Helpful State Links:
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Updates regarding PUA: Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provides up to 13 additional weeks of benefits to an individual who has exhausted all rights to any regular unemployment compensation and who meets other eligibility requirements of the CARES Act. Claimants may be eligible for these federal benefits and these benefits are now available through UI Online.
Please visit the following link for more information: www.mass.gov/peuc
Monday, May 18
BOSTON (WGGB/WSHM) -- Governor Charlie Baker has unveiled the state's four phase plan for reopening. Phase 1 begins Monday, May 18, followed by a second round to the initial phase next week. "Today, as we start the phased return to our new normal, we are going to ask people once again to rise to the occasion as we continue to fight this virus," Baker explained.
Massachusetts construction, manufacturing, and some personal service businesses will be allowed to reopen first in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the governor’s presentation of the reopening advisory board’s phased plan.
Phase 1 appears to be split into two staggered sub-phases. As we enter Phase 1 today, some businesses are allowed to open now. The rest of Phase 1 will reopen next Monday. Essential businesses, construction and manufacturing can reopen today, though they stress no one must reopen before they feel ready. Starting on May 25, lab and office space - except offices in the city of Boston - can reopen. Boston office space will not reopen until June 1.
Hair salons, pet grooming, and car washes can also reopen with limited capacity and restrictions - like an appointment-only model - and they must follow safety guidelines. Curbside pickup & remote fulfillment of retail orders can also resume, as well as outdoor recreation. Places of worship can open starting May 18, so long as they follow the guidance. There are sector-specific social distancing guidelines that each business must follow. Healthcare facilities will also be allowed to see more patients.
Baker also downgraded the 'stay-at-home' advisory to a 'safer-at-home' advisory, whereby those who are high risk are encouraged to stay home as a much as possible and others are asked to limit in-person interactions like pickup games and play dates.
The Commonwealth will only move to the next phase when public health data dictates but it will be at least three weeks between phases.
As he has done previously, Gov. Baker asked residents to do four things:
Cover nose and mouth when you can’t distance yourself
Wash your hands and clean surfaces often
Keep social distancing of six feet
Remain vigilant for symptoms and stay home if you're sick
Businesses in the private sector are being asked to continue work remotely when possible. More information on the state's plan can be found here.
Monday, April 27, 2020
Additional Funding for SBA Relief Programs
On April 24, the President signed new legislation to provide relief and stimulus in light of COVID-19. This legislation is a $484 billion package that will replenish the dollars in the SBA’s PPP and EIDL programs, as well as provide additional funding for hospitals and coronavirus testing.
The Paycheck Protection Program will receive an additional $310 billion to offer relief to small businesses. Of this total, $60 billion will be set aside to fund PPP loans made by small and community financial institutions to reach underbanked communities. The SBA will share additional information on which financial institutions are eligible for this set-aside funding as it becomes available.
Next steps for businesses:
The SBA will accept PPP applications from lenders beginning Monday, April 27 at 10:30 a.m. It is critically important that small businesses work with their lender to apply for the PPP as soon as possible. Businesses can access the SBA’s Find A Lender tool or consult the SBA Massachusetts District Office’s list of participating Paycheck Protection Program lenders.
The SBA will offer virtual sessions to support small businesses all week. Sign up for SBA email updates to receive notice of these programs. Businesses should also consult SBA Resource Partners, who offer remote counseling and coaching.
Any small businesses in need of application translation services can go to Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC)’s online resources. This website provides a list of technical assistance providers who can help businesses apply for PPP in languages other than English.
The Mass. Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) will keep us closely apprised as additional guidance and information is available.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Loan Advance offerings have also received additional funding through this legislation, totaling $60 billion ($50 billion for the EIDL program and $10 billion for the Loan Advance). Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.
Friday, April 24, 2020
Statewide Moratorium on Evictions and Forelosures During COVID-19
On April 20, Governor Baker signed a bill establishing a moratorium on non-essential evictions and residential foreclosures. This law provides temporary protections for both residential tenants and small businesses that are unable to pay rent, in an effort to stabilize homes and commercial spaces during the COVID-19 crisis. The law also prohibits proceedings on residential foreclosures during the crisis.
While this bill does not relieve a residential or commercial tenant of their responsibility to pay their rent or mortgage, it does offer protection for those who are unable to make these payments as result of the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
Under this legislation, a landlord cannot file a complaint in court to evict an eligible small business for a non-essential purpose (i.e., a purpose that does not pose a health or safety risk). Eligible small businesses are businesses that operate only in Massachusetts, have 150 or fewer employees, and are not publicly traded. This moratorium will last for either four months following the bill’s signing on April 20, 2020, or until 45 days after the emergency declaration expires (whichever is sooner, and unless extended by the Governor).
The new law does not eliminate or reduce an obligation to pay rent. Businesses that are able to pay rent should continue to do so and should work collaboratively with their landlords when they are unable to pay rent due.
Under this legislation, landlords may not apply late fees or negatively report to credit bureaus if the tenant sends a timely notice that the non-payment of rent was the result of a financial hardship caused by COVID-19. Evictions may still proceed when a tenant’s lease violation creates a health or safety risk for others.
Eligible small businesses can use the Form of Notice – COVID-19 Hardship – Small Business Tenant and the Documentation of Financial Hardship – Small Business Tenant forms to provide the required notice to their landlord of their inability to pay rent. Access these forms and Emergency Regulations here.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
The Baker-Polito Administration announced today that Massachusetts residents who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits can now apply online for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.
The new PUA program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to those who are unable to work because of a COVID-19-related reason but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. This includes self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and those with limited work history. Applicants can learn more and apply at www.mass.gov/pua.
To be eligible for this new program, individuals must provide self-certification that they are otherwise able and available to work but are prevented from doing so by circumstances relating to COVID-19, including their own illness or that of a family member.
Those able to tele-work with pay and individuals receiving paid sick or other leave will not qualify for PUA. Individuals receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits for less than their customary work week, however, may still be eligible for PUA. Also, those working fewer hours, resulting in a loss of income due to COVID-19, who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for PUA.
The federal CARES Act created another temporary federal program called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) that provides an additional $600 weekly benefit for those receiving unemployment benefits or PUA. FPUC provides that additional benefit through July 25, 2020. The Commonwealth announced implementation of FPUC earlier this month.
All approved PUA applications will initially receive the minimum weekly benefit amount, plus the additional $600 FPUC weekly benefit. Once a worker’s wages are verified, weekly benefit amounts may increase. The amount of PUA benefits received is based on the individual’s reported previous income. PUA benefits may not be more than the state's maximum weekly benefit rate for regular unemployment, which is $823 in Massachusetts.
Weekly benefits, including any increase to your weekly benefit amount, will be retroactive to Jan. 27, 2020, or the date when you became unemployed, whichever is more recent, as long as you became unable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Launches 'Save Small Business' Fund
The Save Small Business Fund is a grant-making initiative offering short-term relief for small employers in the United States and its territories. Helping small employers who are struggling during the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information, please visit their website.
April 17, 2020
NEW Notice: SBA Debt Relief Program
As part of SBA's debt relief efforts, under section 1112 of the CARES Act...
The SBA will automatically pay the principal, interest, and certain fees of current 7(a), 504, and microloans for a period of six months.
The SBA will also automatically pay the principal, interest, and fees of NEW 7(a), 504, and microloans issued prior to September 27, 2020.
A procedural notice by the SBA has full guidance:
The purpose of this Notice is to address the implementation of Section 1112 for the 7(a) and 504 Loan Programs. SBA addressed the implementation of section 1112 for the Microloan Program in a separate notice. See SBA Procedural Notice 5000-20015, effective 04/08/2020.
In accordance with section 1112(c), SBA will pay the principal, interest, and any “associated fees” that Borrowers owe on a “covered loan” in a “regular servicing status” to 7(a) Lenders and Certified Development Companies (CDCs) for a 6-month period. SBA will make these payments in accordance with the criteria and procedures described below.
1. A “covered loan” means a loan that is guaranteed by SBA under:
a. Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 636(a)), including a loan
made under the Community Advantage Pilot Program. A “covered loan”
excludes a loan made under paragraph (36) of such section 7(a), as added by
section 1102 of the CARES Act; or
b. title V of the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 (15 U.S.C. 695 et seq.),
(the 504 Loan Program).
Monday, April 13, 2020
Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce and City of Holyoke Announce COVID-19 Business Emergency Operations Grant Program
HOLYOKE - In an effort to provide assistance to Holyoke businesses to meet the challenges of COVID-19, Mayor Morse and Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Andréa Marion are pleased to introduce the COVID-19 Holyoke Business Emergency Operations Grant Program.
The primary purpose of this COVID-19 Business Emergency Operations Grant Program is to help Holyoke-based businesses to withstand and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Grant Program is administered by the City of Holyoke Office for Community Development and the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Funds should be used by businesses to help them remain open, retain employees, or adapt business operations remotely or online during the public health emergency.
Businesses must meet one of the following HUD eligibility requirements:
Business must be owned by a low/moderate income household, or
Employ full time at least one full time equivalent low/moderate income person or
Provide a service (like a restaurant or grocery store) in a low and moderate income primarily residential neighborhood where at least 51% of the residents are low or moderate income.*
*Information on low/moderate income qualifications will be made available with the grant applications on the Chamber Website.
Applications will be made available on Monday, April 13 and the first round of application reviews will begin on April 17, 2020; application review will continue on a weekly basis until all funds are committed. The review committee consists of representatives from the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, the City of Holyoke, and EforAll Holyoke.
Total fund availability at this time is $90,000, and while there is currently no specific maximum request amount, resources are extremely limited and the City will seek to maximize the community impact of the COVID-19 Business Emergency Operations fund. More program details and an electronic fillable application are available at the Chamber’s COVID-19 resource page, which is accessible via www.holyokechamber.com. Please contact Andréa Marion (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Additional details about grant requirements and eligibility are included below:
Business must be located in the City of Holyoke
Must be for-profit; non-profit businesses cannot apply
Business must have been in operation as of January 20, 2020
Meet the following HUD eligibility requirements: Business must be owned by a low/moderate income household, or employ full time at least one full time equivalent low/moderate income person or provide a service like a retail or grocery store in a low and moderate income primarily residential neighborhood where at least 51% of the residents are low or moderate income.
Applicant must be compliant with the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance and all applicable state and federal employment laws and regulations
Applicant must demonstrate efforts to access funding resources including bank financing and SBA programs
Approved Uses of Grant Funds:
Equipment / Technology
Consultant Fees including but not limited to:
Inventory or supplies
Rent / Utilities (applicant may need to demonstrate efforts to modify or defer these)
Ineligible Use of Grant Funds (not exhaustive)
Paying off taxes, liens or other outstanding debts
Any items purchased prior to grant approval
For Questions related to CDBG Funding and technical assistance please contact the Holyoke Office of Community Development, Alicia Zoeller (email@example.com)
Thursday, April 9, 2020
Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance Announces Guidance On CARES Act Implementation
The Department of Unemployment Assistance is moving swiftly to implement three new public benefit programs that will expand unemployment eligibility; temporarily increase weekly benefits for all claimants; and allow additional categories of people to claim unemployment benefits. The move, the largest expansion of assistance for the Commonwealth’s workforce since the Great Depression, follows new guidance from the federal government regarding the CARES Act. Read more here
Friday, April 3, 2020
Beginning today, April 3rd, banks are now able to offer SBL. At the moment, there are very few local banks that are able to offer them, however over the next few days - we anticipate the number of banks offering SBL's to grow.
April 2, 2020
The CARES Act makes substantial funding available to support small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus through the Small Business Administration, both through new programs and adjustments to existing programs. I’m hopeful that you will share these resources widely with businesses in your circles.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan program designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep workers on the payroll. Loans are up to $10M, with a 0.5% interest rate and a 2-year maturity; there are no payments for the first six months.
· Who can apply? Businesses, non-profits, Veterans organizations, Tribal concerns, sole proprietorship's, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors, with 500 or fewer employees.
· When can I apply? The Paycheck Protection Program will be available beginning on Friday, April 3rd. Applications must be submitted by June 30, 2020.
· How do I apply? You can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any participating federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, or Farm Credit institution. Ask your local lender if it is participating in the program.
What else should I know? The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. The program will be available retroactive from February 15, 2020, so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020. Read more here
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance is a Loan Advance of $10,000 that is available to applicants who have been approved for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan; it does not need to be repaid, so you can think of the Advance as a grant for business expenses.
· Who can apply? If you have applied or intend to apply to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, you can also apply for a Loan Advance.
· When can I apply? The Loan Advance is available now.
· What else should I know? Please note that you should submit an application at the above link, even if you’ve previously submitted an EIDL application prior to the Loan Advance being available. Read more here
The SBA is also offering Debt Relief to small businesses. Under this relief, the SBA will pay the principal and interest for six months beginning March 27th, 2020 for qualifying new and current holders of 7(a) loans.
· Who can apply? Businesses who already have a covered 7(a) SBA loan or receive a 7(a) SBA loan prior to September 27, 2020.
· When can I apply? This relief is applied for covered loans beginning with payments due after March 27, 2020.
· How do I apply? Reach out to your SBA lender to discuss how this debt relief applies to your SBA loan.
· What else should I know? This debt relief is available only to 7(a) loans and not to loans made under the Paycheck Protection Program, 504 loans, or microloans. Read more here
April 1, 2020
Extension of Essential Services Order:
Businesses and organizations not on the list of essential services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order. This order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people until May 4th.
The Administration updated the “COVID-19 Essential Services” list today, which goes into effect at 12 noon today (April 1st). into effect April 1 at noon. While these businesses are designated as essential, they are urged to follow social distancing protocols for workers in accordance with guidance from the Department of Public Health (DPH).
Some of the updates to the essential services list include:
Clarity around the supply chain that supports other essential services
Adding health care providers like chiropractors and optometrists
Expanding the types of workers providing disinfectant and sanitation services
Click here for the full list of categories of “COVID-19 Essential Services.” (PDF)
Click here for COVID-19 Essential Services FAQs created by the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.
As part of the updated essential business list, DPH issued new guidance today around hotels, motels, inns, beds and breakfasts and other short-term residential rentals. Based on this new guidance, hotels, motels, and short-term rentals may only be used for efforts related to fighting COVID-19, like front line health workers or individuals, or for Massachusetts residents who have been otherwise displaced from their residences.
Last week, Governor Charlie Baker directed DPH to issue a stay-at-home advisory, and the Governor announced today that the advisory will remain in effect. Residents are advised to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel and other unnecessary person to person contact during this time period. Residents who are considered at high risk when exposed to COVID-19 should limit social interactions with other people as much as possible.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed by the President on March 27. Go to this link below for more details regarding this important resource for your business: CARES Act Small Business Owners Guide
Massachusetts-specific information on CARES Act unemployment eligibility for self-employed individuals, 1099 workers, and others who have been ineligible in the past, will be forthcoming as soon as new rules are ready.
Other Helpful State Links:
March 31, 2020
>Baker: 'stay-at-home' advisory, non-essential business closures extended to May 4
> UP TO $10K Disaster Loan Advance for SBA's EIDL
Yesterday evening, EIDL applicants that already submitted in the previous system received an email instructing those that wish to request a FORGIVABLE advance of up to $10K to submit a new application on the new portal.
If you are submitting a new application, please follow the new streamlined steps in the portal (https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/) as the questions are mostly the same from all the required documents in the previous version of the portal.
All small businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to apply for EIDL and request an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The loan advance will not have to be repaid.
If you already submitted an application and want to check on status, please call customer service at 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Please direct all inquiries and questions to our District Office email at: MassachusettsDO@sba.gov
The Coronovirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed by the President on March 27. Go to the link below for more details regarding this important resource for your business. More Massachusetts-specific information will be forthcoming. CARES Act Small Business Owners Guide
>CARES Act Paycheck Protection Loan: Small Business Loan and Loan Forgiveness
Since the passage of the CARES Act on Friday, March 27, 2020, a practical issue for many small businesses is "How can we get the loan that we might not be required to pay back"?!
This Client Update, provides a practical, step-by-step [click here] and starting analysis to help eligible small businesses begin to answer that question and includes the following subject-headings and content:
STEP 1: Is The Entity Eligible To Receive The Loan?
STEP 2: Calculating The Amount Of The Loan The Entity Is Eligible To
STEP 3. Will You Seek The Entire Amount For Which The Business Is Eligible?
For what can the loan amount be used?
Factors related to determining the "anticipated" loan forgiveness: How much of the loan amount will be forgiven?
If 100% is not forgiven, what are the terms of the loan balance?
How would currently laid-off or furloughed employees impact loan forgiveness?
STEP 4: Once You Know The Amount Of The Loan For Which You Could Be Eligible And Will Seek, What Happens Next?
STEP 5: Securing "Loan Forgiveness" To Avoid Repayment Obligations.
As the CARES Act regulations are implemented, SHQ will be providing additional detail about these and other topics arising from the CARES Act.
If you have additional questions, please email the attorney with whom you regularly consult or SHQ's Managing Partner at Meghan.Sullivan@sullivanandhayes.com
March 27, 2020
> SBA Announces 2 New Forms :
The Disaster Loan Assistance portal has been revamped and the process has been more simplified!
You now are only required to upload two (2) forms to initiate the process:
> New Major Disaster Declaration Request:
On March 26, Gov. Baker submitted a request to the federal government for a Major Disaster Declaration for Massachusetts. If approved, this declaration would provide the Commonwealth additional federal assistance beyond what was included in President Trump’s Emergency Declaration on March 13.
The request includes a request for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program, which would make financial assistance available to cities and towns, state agencies and certain nonprofits statewide. The request also asks for FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, including Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling Assistance, to help support residents in need during this unprecedented incident. Read the Letter.
Additional Helpful State Links: